Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where I was

I worked out that morning at the Gold's Gym in Rosslyn.

There's more to the story, and I wanted to write it, but that's as far as I get when I try to put it together.

The more to the story is such a weird confusion of all the chaos that surrounds that day — both before and after. There's Burning Man, a love triangle, a job interview in Boston September 10 and a stay in a fancy hotel with lovely plush robes, a friend's 30th birthday and another friend who'd come to live with me, my father's heart attack and a grandmother who needed help she wanted to pay for but didn't want to pay that much for, an ex-boyfriend who showed up for a concert, apple pancakes with a woman I'd fall in love with, another new relationship starting that would become second only to my own in importance in my life. None of those were about what happened that day, any more than my workout was, but it was a very swirly time for me.

When the first plane crashed, though, I was on my way up the hill from the gym to work. I think it was a good workout; Lord knows I needed one.

When I got up the hill, my boss, who was not as close a friend as she is now, but who has always had a comforting way about her, met me en route to my desk to ask if I'd heard. I hadn't, of course, and then there's a blur in my mind around that morning — other planes crashing, newsroom meetings to discuss how to simultaneously take care  of ourselves, jammed phone lines as people tried to find loved ones who were not OK and others tried to reassure loved ones they were OK.

When I finally got through to my parents, they weren't worried. They knew bad stuff was happening but didn't fear I was in danger. They were in New Hampshire, and it was as remote to them as the Oklahoma City bombing had felt to me. Sad, tragic, but not immediately relevant. The friend who was staying with me showed up at work to see if I wanted to go to lunch; he hadn't turned on the TV in my little apartment that morning, and so had no idea what was going on. I told him to go home and not drive around, so he drove around, looking at the Pentagon, which was so so close to my house and my work.

At Burning Man, we said we'd go back to the desert when the shit hit the fan. When it did, not two weeks later, we did not.
The woman who'd soon after be my partner in my longest relationship was stranded in Columbus that day where she'd been watching women's soccer with another friend of ours; she has her own story of renting a car to drive back. She knew someone in the Pentagon.
My comforting boss lost someone in the World Trade Center. We were closer just a little later than that.
I didn't get the job.
I quit my second job, because by then I didn't need it, and the racism there after the attacks was too much else to deal with.
The friend who was staying me found a job and a place to live within two weeks of his arrival in the area.
My dad was fine, and hasn't had another heart attack since. Modern medicine is amazing; his uncles died in their 50s from that same heart attack.
That other couple lasted a long time, but not forever. My relationship lasted a shorter long time, but not forever.
My grandmother died a few years later, nearly 101 years old.
Today is my friend's 40th birthday.

That day was not at all about me, but this blog is, and so what you get is my blurry snapshot, walking up the hill from the gym.

Over ten years, I have thought a lot about the people who died that day, in planes and buildings, attackers and victims and first responders, and the people who would die later.

But today, I find, my heart is with the people whose stories intersected with mine that day. I am thinking today of Beth and Todd and Cynthia and Allyson and Rachel, of my grandmother and my coworkers and my Burning Man buddies. Today, in New Hampshire where people were not scared then and are not scared today, I want connections. I want to build a planet-sized chart of intersecting stories, of the people whose stories touched mine and the people whose stories touched theirs so I can see how the events of one day — maybe any day — connect seven billion people in circles.

So, how are you doing?

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